Announcement DH Event on campus Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Patrick Burns

We’re delighted to welcome Patrick Burns as the next guest in our DH Speaker Series. Patrick J. Burns is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Quantitative Criticism Lab in the UT-Austin Classics Department working on computational literary criticism with a special focus on genre and style in Latin poetry—research that grew out of his 2016 Fordham dissertation on the influence of Latin love elegy on post-Augustan epic. A main focus at present is a book project called »Code/Model« which uses computer-assisted methods such as automated intertextuality detection, topic modeling, and word embeddings to test the conclusions of important works of Latin Literary criticism from the last 50 years. In addition, Patrick is a Research Associate at NYU’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World where he previously worked as the ISAW Library’s Assistant Research Scholar for Digital Projects. Patrick is also the Latin tools developer for the Classical Language Toolkit, an open-source project dedicated to natural language processing research for historical languages.

Thursday, March 25, 2021 at 1:30pm

Register at

“’Pragmatic’ Scholarship: What Coding Has Taught Me about Humanities Research” 

In this talk, I’ll discuss coding as a research practice and how coding best practices (spec. those drawn from the work of Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, e.g. in their book “The Pragmatic Programmer”) can be applied, not just to DH programming, but to humanities research and writing in general.

Announcement DH Event on campus People Speaker Series Summer Research

DH Speaker Series: Jaime Roots and Joey Dickinson

Join us on Wednesday, February 24th, 2021 at 12:30pm to hear from one of the newer members of our community – Prof. Jaime Roots and Joey Dickinson ’22. Prof. Roots is a member of the German Department and spent last summer with Joey Dickinson in the Summer Research Scholars program gathering and visualizing data on gender in German fan fiction. We’ve been talking a lot about data in the humanities this year, and this presentation will be a great example of the ways humanities scholars can use data analysis methods in their work.

Register for the talk at

Not able to make the talk? Sign up for the Chesapeake Digital Humanities Conference and catch Jaime’s presentation on February 25th, 2021!


Coding for Trends: Author and Commenter Posting Trends in an Online Community 

With the advent of the Internet, new means of communication and connectivity have developed. Like never before, individuals are able to join communities of like-minded individuals where they can connect and share their stories and experiences. Here I specifically explore the “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” fan fiction community on Yet despite the many positive advantages presented by advances in technology such as the benefits of forming online communities with likeminded members, sharing stories and experiences quickly and easily with others around the world, the Internet likewise enables (and can often encourage) verbal attacks and discrimination.  

In a world of Internet misogyny where users identifying as men are most often attacked based on their ideas, and those identifying as women based on their personhood or appearance, the “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” fandom on remains a place where women can outwardly express their ideas with few misogynistic attacks. In order to investigate this online community as a relatively safe space for women to express their ideas on topics such as the consent of male advances, I have created multiple data sets and applied data analysis to more objectively interpret trends within the online community. Through this work I have been able to analyze gender distribution among both writers and commenters in the online forum, the distribution of authors and the types of stories they posted online, the correlation between the types of comments posted and gender, as well as the distribution of feminist themes within stories posted online.

Announcement Event on campus

Winter Academy: Data Modeling in the Humanities

Ever thought “I need a database” but not sure where or how to start? Are the spreadsheets you use to organize your research becoming unwieldy? Maybe you’re just having trouble imagining your work as data. This workshop is for humanities scholars who are data-curious. Using case studies from W&L faculty projects, we’ll share practical tips for formatting your data and connecting your material with existing data sets, as well as discuss the effects of your decisions on your data and the material you study. You’re encouraged to bring your own data set or data-friendly project to workshop during this session.

Thursday, November 19, 2020
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Register for this event and other Winter Academy sessions:

Announcement DH Event off campus People

Announcing DH open lunches for Fall 2020

We acknowledge that this has been a difficult fall term. At W&L, we’re already halfway through our semester. Many of us are teaching from our homes or minimizing our time on campus. At a small liberal arts college that relies on face-to-face interactions in and outside of the classroom, we have found it hard to stay connected with our colleagues, never mind stay caught up on our own research or the latest in our fields. 

To that end, we’d like to offer a small series of open Zoom sessions for the DH community to come together during the lunch hour and check in. You can bring a project update, a technical question, a great reading on digital pedagogy, or just show up. If you need incentive to pull out that TEI project or another set of eyes on your data, we’re here for you.

Though we cannot gather together for lunch, participants will receive a $15 gift card to a local eatery. Thanks to the Digital Pedagogy Teacher-Scholar Cohort for sponsoring this series. 

Register for one or all events and get the Zoom info at

Friday, October 16th, 12-1pm 

Wednesday, October 28th, 12-1pm

Thursday, November 12th,  12-1pm

DH Project Update Research Projects Speaker Series

DH Speaker Series: Mapping the Scottish Reformation

We’re delighted to announce an upcoming event in our DH Speaker Series. W&L’s Mikki Brock (History), along with her project co-director Chris Langley (Newman University) will give an update on their project Mapping the Scottish Reformation: a database of Scottish clergy, 1560-1689. This project began just a few years ago, but already the team has transcribed over 8000 manuscript pages, leveraged Wikidata to produce linked data, and prototyped a mapping interface – all toward the goal of creating and visualizing comprehensive data on the Scottish clergy. This is an international project with team members and support sourced from both sides of the Atlantic. Funding sources include the NEH and The Strathmartine Trust, while technical support is provided by W&L and the University of Edinburgh. Check out this latest post from the MSR team to learn more what it takes to make this project work. Or, tune on October 7th at 12:30pm, to hear from the project leaders themselves!

A recording of this talk is now available.

Historic map of Scotland with blue pins to represent clergy.

Tracing Ministers through Manuscripts: Mapping the Scottish Reformation

Mikki Brock, Associate Professor of History, W&L

Chris Langley, Reader in Early Modern History, Newman University

October 7, 2020 // 12:30pm

Register for Zoom invite at

DH Project Update Research Projects Undergraduate Fellows

Mapping the Scottish Reformation: Transatlantic Adventures in the Digital Humanities

[Please enjoy this guest post by Michelle D. Brock, Associate Professor of History at Washington and Lee University. Professor Brock has been a fabulous supporter of DH at W&L through the years and we’re thrilled to see this project take off.]

In the spring of 2020 (before the world seemed to change overnight), I spent just over two wonderful months as a Digital Scholarship Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh during my sabbatical from W&L. During this time, I pursued work on a project called Mapping the Scottish Reformation (MSR), directed by myself and Chris Langley of Newman University and featuring Mackenzie Brooks on our project team and Paul Youngman on our advisory board.

Mapping the Scottish Reformation (MSR) is a digital prosopography of ministers who served in the Church of Scotland between the Reformation Parliament of 1560 to the Revolution in 1689. By extracting data from thousands of pages of ecclesiastical court records held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), Mapping the Scottish Reformation tracks clerical careers, showing where they were educated, how they moved between parishes, and their personal and disciplinary history. This early modern data drives a powerful mapping engine that will allow users to build their own searches to track clerical careers over time and space.

The need for such a project was born of the fact that, despite a few excellent academic studies of individual ministers written in recent years, we still know remarkably little about this massive and diverse group. Many questions remain unanswered: How many ministers were moving from one area of Scotland to another? What was the influence of key presbyteries—the regional governing bodies of the Scottish kirk—or universities in this process? What was the average period of tenure for a minister? As of now, there is no way to answer such questions comprehensively, efficiently, and accurately. The voluminous ecclesiastical court records that contain the most detail about the careers of the clergy are not indexed, cumbersome to search, and completely inaccessible to the public or scholars less familiar with the challenges of Scottish handwriting. The multi-volume print source with much of this biographical data on ministers, Hew Scott’s invaluable Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, is not searchable across volumes and contains numerous errors and omissions. A new resource is thus necessary to both search and visualize clerical data, and we intend Mapping the Scottish Reformation to be that resource.

Our project began in earnest in 2017, when, thanks to funding from a W&L Mellon grant, Caroline Nowlin ’19 and Damien Hansford (a postgraduate at Newman University) began working with the Project Directors to pull initial data from the Fasti that could be used to test the feasibility of the project. Three years and a National Endowment for the Humanities HCRR grant later, we are in the pilot “proof of concept” phase of MSR, centered on gathering data on the clergy in the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale—a large and complex region that includes modern day Edinburgh. As such, my time at IASH was spent almost exclusively going through the presbytery records from this synod region to collect data on ministers at all levels in their clerical careers. I have often referred to this as the “unsexy” part of our work—dealing with the nitty gritty of navigating often challenging and inconsistent records in order to gather the data that will power Mapping the Scottish Reformation. There was, of course, no better setting to do this work in than IASH, an institute in the heart of the very university where many of the ministers in the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale were educated and near to the parishes where many of the most prominent of them served.

Throughout my fellowship period, two questions were at the forefront of my mind: Are there patterns, chronological or regional, that account for the great variance in ministerial lives and trajectories? Was any such thing as a “typical” clerical career at all? What Dr. Langley and I have learned over the previous months is that the answers to these questions are significantly more complicated than previously understood by both historians and the wider public.

As we discussed during a presentation given in January at the Centre for Data, Culture and Society, the clerical career path was far less standardized than scholars usually assume. The terminology generally applied by historians and drawn from Hew Scott’s work— of “admitting,” “instituting,” and “transferring” ministers — was one of a distinct profession. Unfortunately, by applying such terms to the early modern ministry, we may be transposing a system and language of formality that just wasn’t there or wasn’t yet fully developed. Thus, one of our central goals is to shed light on the complexity of clerical experiences and development of the ministerial profession by capturing messy data from manuscripts and turning it into something machine readable and suited to a database and visualization layer. In short, we hope to make the qualitative quantitative, and to do so in a way that can also serve as a supplementary finding aid to the rich church court records held at NRS.

To date, my co-Director and I have gone through approximately 3,000 pages of presbytery minutes and collected information on over 300 clerics across more than twenty categories using Google Sheets. Dr. Langley has begun the process of uploading this data to Wikidata and running initial queries using SPARQL to generate basic data-driven maps. The benefit of using Wikidata at this phase in our project is that it is a linked open data platform and is already used as a data repository for the Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, which captured information on most of the parishes and a number of the ministers in our project. We are deeply grateful to the University of Edinburgh’s “Wikimedian in Residence” Ewan McAndrew, who met with us early in my fellowship period to explore opportunities for using Wikidata, which is now a critical part of the technical infrastructure of our project. Thanks to a recently awarded grant from the Strathmartine Trust, in the coming months we hope to collaborate with an academic technologist to build our own Mapping the Scottish Reformation interface, driven by our entries in Wikidata.

Though I sadly had to cut my fellowship period two weeks short due to the COVID-19 crisis, I had a wonderful and productive two months as a Digital Scholarship Fellow at IASH, thanks in no small part to the general sabbatical support from Washington and Lee. In this time, Mapping the Scottish Reformation progressed by leaps and bounds, thanks to the generosity and support of the Scottish history and digital humanities communities at the University of Edinburgh, as well as our colleagues at NRS. Our talk at the Edinburgh’s Centre for Data, Culture and Society, which drew an audience not only of academics but also genealogists and local residents, was a real highlight, allowing us to make connections with a wide range of people interested in the history of Scotland, family history, the Reformation, and the digital humanities. These connections, and the ability to make access to data widely available, are more important than ever on both sides of the Atlantic, and I am looking forward to continuing this work at home in Virginia.

Announcement DH Event on campus Speaker Series

Niall Atkinson and Team to Visit in March

We are excited to share the news that Niall Atkinson, associate professor of art history at the University of Chicago, will be visiting next week accompanied by his DH team member Carmen Caswell, Digital Humanities Research Liaison.

Professor Atkinson will deliver the Pamela H. Simpson Lecture in Art History on March 11 at 5 p.m. in Northen Auditorium.

In addition to the lecture, Atkinson and Caswell will visit classes and collaborate with members of the Florence As It Was team.

Learn more about their visit over at The Columns.

Announcement Event on campus Pedagogy

Digital Pedagogy Discussion Series – Winter Edition

We’re back with another round of Digital Pedagogy lunches!

Are you curious about digital pedagogy methods but aren’t sure where to start? Do you enjoy hearing from colleagues about what’s worked in their classes? Do you need to eat lunch? 

To guide our conversation, we’ll use Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments by the Modern Language Association. This resource is organized by keywords – each one is a pedagogical concept with annotated artifacts of curricular material. A faculty volunteer has selected a keyword of their choice and will be facilitating the discussion. Lunch is on us! 

Here’s the plan: grab your lunch from the designated lunch location (let them know you’re with the DH Cohort) and head down to DH Workspace (Leyburn 218). We’ll eat, chat, and hopefully come away with new ideas for your classroom.  It would be great if you could let Mackenzie Brooks, DH Librarian, know that you’re coming.

Keyword: Praxis
Facilitator: Mackenzie Brooks, Library
Tuesday, February 4th, 2020
Lunch location: Marketplace

Keyword: Annotation
Facilitator: Caleb Dance, Classics
Monday, February 17th, 2020
Lunch location: Marketplace

Keyword: Archive
Facilitator: Ashley Lazevnick, Art History
Friday, March 6th, 2020
Lunch location: Marketplace

Announcement Event on campus Pedagogy

Digital Pedagogy Discussion Series

Are you curious about digital pedagogy methods but aren’t sure where to start? Do you enjoy hearing from colleagues about what’s worked in their classes? Do you need to eat lunch? 

The Digital Humanities Faculty Cohort is hosting a new discussion series on digital pedagogy! 

To guide our conversation, we’ll use Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities: Concepts, Models, and Experiments by the Modern Language Association. This resource is organized by keywords – each one is a pedagogical concept with annotated artifacts of curricular material. A faculty volunteer has selected a keyword of their choice and will be facilitating the discussion. Lunch is on us! 

Here’s the plan: grab your lunch from the designated lunch location (let them know you’re with the DH Cohort) and head down to DH Workspace (Leyburn 218). We’ll eat, chat, and hopefully come away with new ideas for your classroom.  It would be great if you could let Mackenzie Brooks, DH Librarian, know that you’re coming.

Keyword: Mapping
Facilitator: Melissa Vise, History
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
Lunch location: Cafe 77

Keyword: Failure
Facilitator: Sydney Bufkin, Library
Wednesday, December 4th, 2019
Lunch location: Marketplace

Keyword: ?  Facilitator: you?  Let us know if you’d like to run a discussion in 2020!

Announcement DH Event off campus

CFP: Chesapeake Digital Humanities Consortium

The newly-formed Chesapeake Digital Humanities Consortium will be holding its first conference on February 21, 2020 at William and Mary. The Call for Proposals is now live! Learn more on the CDHC website. Proposals are due January 6th, 2020.

Catherine Knight Steele, Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Maryland – College Park and Director of the Andrew W. Mellon funded African American Digital Humanities Initiative (AADHum), will be keynoting.

The Chesapeake Digital Humanities Consortium (CDHC) is an association of people and institutions committed to the cooperative development of teaching, learning, research, and community partnerships in the digital humanities. Because place and space shape collaboration, CDHC is focused on supporting digital humanities in the D.C, Virginia, and Maryland region.

CDHC has three guiding goals:

  • Identifying, developing, and communicating opportunities for members to pursue the digital humanities.
  • Building accessible, diverse, and equitable digital humanities communities.
  • Fostering sharing, collaboration, and innovation among people, places, and institutions.